Best Ways to Recycle, Compost, and Use Dog Waste
Dog waste should be composted, not put into a septic tank; it heats up enough to destroy pathogens and provides nutrients that can be utilized in your yard. Composting dog waste also keeps tons of material being added to a system already overwhelmed. This article will explain how to correctly make a compost heap out of your dogs waste.
It is unfortunate that since the introduction of Steve Solomon´s great Organic Gardeners Composting back in the 1980s that so many people have followed his suggestions without reasoning them out. Mr. Solomon-unaware of how to correctly compost dog stools to destroy parasites-recommended that dog waste not be added to compost. Since then most articles recommend the same. For fifteen years there have been sites on the internet that claim to be “composting” dog waste are actually proposing the construction of small sewage systems.
You can compost your dog´s poop.
Dog waste (poop) should be composted, not put into a septic tank, because it heats up enough to destroy the pathogens and provides nutrients that can be utilized in your yard. Composting dog waste, and not throwing it in a landfill, also keeps tons of material being added to a system already overwhelmed.
This article is not about to teach you how to build a dog waste septic system. If you want to do that you can go out and buy a barrel and then there are about 100 other sites on the internet that will show you what to do. Sewage systems that require the purchase of large plastic containers and chemical inoculants purchased at the grocery store are neither friendly to the environment nor friendly to your budget.
This article will tell you the benefits of correctly composting your dog´s stool and also tell you how to do it properly. If you have a cat, and you use biodegradable litter, her waste can be added also.
Why compost dog waste?
Each year tons of dog stool are thrown into trash cans and end up in sanitary landfills. When dog waste is composted it becomes a nutrient that will improve your yard and trees. When your soil is lacking in organic matter no amount of chemical fertilizer you purchase is going to improve things the way you want. The compost you produce, with the material you already have on hand (dog waste), will improve things the way you want.
If you live in an urban area this is not a viable option. You have nowhere to compost and wouldn’t have anything to do with the compost anyway.
Are there problems with using dog waste?
There are some pathogens that can spread from dogs to humans. Most of the bacteria will die easily, and in The Humanure Handbook (Chapter 7, Worms and Disease) the author says that roundworms can survive for 90 days in a shady area.
The University of Minnesota did some research in this area and determined that in order to destroy harmful worm eggs your compost would need to exceed 165 degrees for five days. The University of Oregon ran tests and determined that a compost pile that reached 130 degrees and was turned five times (at 3 day intervals) would no longer contain pathogens.
If you live in a suburb and only have a small space your really need to build or buy a compost system. I have added a plan here and there are numerous videos available on YouTube to help you build a compost bin. If you need further instructions on how to utilize this composting system you can purchase an e-book called Humanure Toilet Instruction Manual.
How to compost dog waste?
You do not need to buy a storage bin, you certainly do not need to buy a chemical to add to your compost mixture. The process is ridiculously simple.
1.Mark the area where you will be composting. (If you live on a farm, just make a pile and do not bother building a structure to hold the compost.)
2.When you pick up a shovel full of dog stool, cover it with a shovel full of carbon material. (Since the carbon: nitrogen ratio of dog stool is about 6:1—similar to chicken manure and much better than cow manure—you add about one scoop of carbon material to cover two scoops of stool.) I have a friend who is a carpenter so I always have access to wood shavings; that is what I use. If you want to use grass clippings that is fine, and since they rot quickly they are even a better choice.
3.Every few days (if you need a rigid schedule do it every Monday and Thursday) toss a shovel full of old compost on to the pile so that there will be beneficial bacteria to speed up the digestion.
4.Keep the pile moist; if you have fish add their water when you are cleaning out their tank.
5.Optional: If you really want to produce high quality compost, add some worms. (This is called vermicomposting.) You will need to add fruit peelings and coffee grounds as an additional feed for the worms but they will also eat the dog stool. They will produce a high quality fertilizer. By the time the worms have consumed your dog stool compost you will have high quality humus that will contain no pathogens. There are many hubs available, including this one, and if you want to go this direction you really should read more. If you run into any that tell you not to use dog waste, they are wrong. They are repeating incorrect information.
An acquaintance of mine has an organic coffee plantation; he maintains all of the plants only on humus produced by his worms. If you have purchased organic coffee at Starbucks or your grocery store then you already use humus. If you use worms you will be able to produce your own.
If you are fecophobic you can add dog waste in biodegradable bags to your compost heap. It is going to take many more years to return to soil if you use this method, and I certainly do not suggest trying to add worms as they will have nothing to feed on.
How to use dog poop?
I would not eat a teaspoonful of dog waste compost. Neither would I eat a teaspoonful of humanure compost, chicken manure compost, or fresh dirt. If you have maintained a proper composting system the product will have no pathogens, but I still recommend it be used on your lawn, on your ornamental bushes, and around your trees. I have about a dozen coconut and a dozen banana trees that are always searching for additional nutrients. If you have fruit trees, a hedge, or a lawn they will appreciate the compost and pay you back by flourishing.
The compost is ready to be used when it looks like regular soil. I cannot tell you an exact time because it will vary depending on your environmental conditions. If you live in the northern US your compost heap will not even heat up during the winter; here in the tropics (and with a healthy worm population working on my compost), my pile is usually ready to spread in about 3 months. I have compost piles in several areas and tend to leave it longer.
If you want to destroy our environment by selfishly throwing your dog´s stool into our landfills, or (even worse) buy a product that freezes the feces before you pick it up just so that the task will be a little easier, perhaps you are not the type of person who should even be owning a dog.
Think about it.
© 2012 Dr Mark